Sunday, August 31, 2014

Socialists Are Better Anarchists than Anarchists

All the materials and forces are at hand and easily available for the production of all things needed to provide food and shelter for every man, woman and child, thus putting an end to the poverty and misery. But the raw material, the machinery and transport must be taken from private ownership and control to be fully socialised, and democratised and then set into  operation for the common good of all. A privately owned world can never be free and a society based upon class conflict cannot be at peace. Such a world is a place of strife and such a society can  only survive by means of militarism and physical force.

What is it that divides the Socialist Party many anarchists? Like ourselves, they are for the working class. The emancipation of the workers is our common aim. The point of difference here between socialists and anarchists is not one as to the form of organisation of the future society, or of the details of such organisation. It is not that socialists wish to impose on the future society a huge bureaucratic system, spreading its tentacles, octopus-like, over all the arrangements of social life, suppressing individuality, and reducing every detail of daily life to rule and plan. All socialists are rebels against any kind of enslavement and exploitation. But the Socialist Party does stand for social ownership and social control, whereas there are many who consider themselves  anarchists, while still professing to be a socialist and to believe in social ownership, are critical of social control and propose some form of workers’ control over production. So there is a difference in the conception of future society of the socialist and that of some anarchists. The very essence of socialism, as the word connotes, is that society, the community at large, has interests superior to those of any individual or section of it. This is a basic difference between the socialist and the anarchist.

It is the aim of socialists to deprive the capitalists of the means of production. But that in itself is not enough. We must also determine who is to control these means of production. When another minority takes the place of the capitalists and controls the means of production, independently of the people and frequently against their will, the change in property relations does not signify socialism.

 It is very interesting to speculate on the future arrangements of society, but it is not in our power to say that these arrangements will be this or that and any discussion on this matter must necessarily be of an academic character. We are not called upon to make rules for future society; we can very well afford to let society at the time to take care of itself in that respect.  Nor should diverging speculations as to future society prevent people working together for a common object.

There are anarchists who believe that even under the limited conditions of today’s democracy workers should utilise the methods of the insurrectionary general strike, because, in their opinion, such methods will bring socialism more quickly than the casting of ballots, and that in the final analysis the opponents of socialism in the democratic states will yield only to insurrection and the general strike. They assert that socialists cannot hope to attain an electoral majority as long as the opponents of socialism retain control over the economic centres and the mass media. The Socialist Party reply: For sure, the power at the disposal of the capitalist, the economic dependence of the workers, the influence of the media and the stealing of elections can be brought into play even under democracy. But a Socialist Party which is unable, regardless of these obstacles, to obtain the support of a majority of the people in a democracy will find it even more impossible to obtain such a majority by the use of armed force or the general strike. For in the latter instance the weapons at the disposal of the opponents of socialism will prove even more effective than under the form of democratic struggle. The road of force and violence requires even greater sacrifices from the working class than the road of democracy. The use of force and violence requires the support of a much greater majority of the people if socialism is to win.  When force is pitted against force, the power at the disposal of the ruling classes comes much more into play and to counter that power we would require the support of an overwhelming majority of the people. The superiority of numbers is the sole decisive weapon the workers’ movement can command in any great decisive contest. Both insurrection and general strike have proven quite useless, however, when they were utilised by a minority.  The vote is the shortest, surest and least costly road to socialism. Our exploiters are not unaware of this fact. Hence, their their efforts to emasculate the franchise wherever they can. It would be nonsensical to contend that the Socialist Party is obliged to use democratic methods under all circumstances. Such an obligation we can assume only with respect to those who themselves use only democratic methods. The capitalist masters in some countries will stop at nothing to maintain themselves when they are confronted with the danger of expropriation. Acts of violence cannot be repelled by ballots, newspaper articles or mass meetings. Nevertheless, in circumstances when the  Socialist Party is compelled to meet violence with violence we must first seek to win the support of the majority. This is the essential prerequisite of victory, regardless of whether they apply democratic or other methods. However, the “Iron Heel” is simply the ruling class ultimate weapon. The capitalists resort more often than not to economic than military instruments, just as the working class in the great decisive political struggles fought with economic rather than military weapons. The methods pursued by the capitalists are essentially the same as those used by the workers: the strike, the crippling of production. The workers fight by stopping work; the capitalists fight by stopping the circulation of capital. By this means they have succeeded in overthrowing governments which they regard as inimical to their interests.

Where democracy does not exist the task before the labour movement  is to establish political freedom. It is quite erroneous to say that the workers must first emancipate themselves economically, and that only then will “true” democracy be possible. It makes no difference whether or not we choose to regard a strong representative assembly of the people, elected by universal equal suffrage, and coupled with freedom of the press, speech and organisation, as mere “formal” “bourgeois" democracy. The fact is that without such institutions the workers cannot emancipate themselves economically. To be sure, democratic institutions will change their character when society will be organised on a socialist basis. Today they are essential instruments of struggle for the working class. Socialist will make them instruments of free social administration. And this will constitute the difference between present day democracy and the democracy of a socialist society.

The Socialist Party fights not for shorter working hours and higher wages. These struggles are the responsibility of more fitting organisations - the trade unions, but for the liberty, equality, fraternity of all human beings, regardless of occupation, gender, colour or creed. Our task is not merely to abolish the capitalist order but to set up another in its place. It is for this reason that the democratically-minded must oppose all tendencies threatening the freedom of society’s members, tendencies manifested not only by the capitalists but also those that originate with anti-capitalist groups. A true socialist commonwealth must represent the realisation of the slogan of the French Revolution, which was “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.”

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Capitalism and the State

In Feudalism, the landlord charged a rent/tax from the peasants in exchange of protecting them and giving them access to his land. You could rationalise this and say "Well the landlord is protecting the peasants, so it's a fair exchange." But ask yourself this, who is the landlord protecting peasants from? Well, from the other landlords he is constantly at war with...  Oh-oh, something seems rather fishy about Feudalism. It's like it's based on a type of circular logic, that the existence of the Feudal class system is what "justifies" the role of the Feudal classes (and hence their existence). The only thing that justifies Feudalism is Feudalism itself, it exists for it's own sake not for some bigger reason or due to eternal or "natural" laws of society; and the roles people play inside Feudalism are historically specific to that mode of production and subjected to change when relations of production change. The same is true for Capitalism.

Workers rely on Capitalists hiring them and advancing accumulated surplus as wages. Why do they? Because they lack means of production to employ themselves and surplus to sustain themselves. Why? Because Capitalists own the vast majority of the means of production. If access to means of production and relations of production changed, the role of Capitalist would be unnecessary, redundant. It is a historically specific phenomenon, not the result of eternal laws of economics, and trying to justifies it by saying "the Capitalist deserves X or Y" is missing the point.

It is very easy to rationalise the monopoly of the social surplus under any type of class society: If you tried to argue that the Capitalist plays an important role advancing Capital (and argue he "deserves" part of the surplus), you would be right! The Capitalist is definitely very important... but only for the Capitalist mode of production, much like the Feudal Baron played an important role in the Feudal mode of production - those respective modes of production wouldn't even exist if it weren't for people playing the role of Capitalist and Noble.

The function of Capitalist means advancing money and gaining back more money at the end of the day: Advancing money to buy means of production and labor-power, let labour power use the means of production to make commodities, sell commodities for more money. The process of exchange does not create or add any new value by itself (new value or an aggregate rise in prices can only come from producing new things, all pure exchange can do is shuffle existing value around), and neither can the means of production act as the source of surplus (they can not 'add' more than what they cost to buy as they are 'dead-labour' or 'stored-labour' that left alone produce nothing, in the end all production reduces itself to labour. So the only possible source of surplus from this exchange must be the work of the labourers: The price of labour-power is lower than the value produced by said labour-power, and hence the 'value added' to capital by the worker. In the aggregate labour-power is the only commodity that can "add" more than what is costs to buy.

 A capitalist doesn't need to "allocate labour and resources", he can hire managers and market analysts for that (and management, depending on the function, is productive labour). The function of Capitalist is the act of advancing money and obtaining more money. The most easily observable example of Capitalism is stocks and share-trading: Shares in a company can change hands multiple times a day on the stock exchange without the share-owners ever coming into contact with production, its decision making or resource allocation; and the factory keeps producing just the same. This is because investors are attempting to get money out of advancing money, exchanging money for more money - being capitalists.
A capitalist, for sure,  can do many things other than being a capitalist. He can be a manager and CEO, an inventor and innovator, or do absolutely nothing like a rentier or an heir to riches. But the function of a Capitalist, the function that is the source of most of his income as a capitalist, by itself produces or adds no new value to production - yet still gets a surplus. This surplus can only come from unpaid-labour. This carries several implications (that capitalists work to get as much out of workers as possible, that the rate of wages is not about 'marginal productivity' but about market power, that a reserve army of labour benefits the capitalist economy by depressing wages, etc).

 If workers do not have means of production (the ability to employ themselves) and also are not employed by a Capitalists, they would starve. Marx argues that, since the only choice workers have is to sell their labour-power in the market, Capitalists can buy this labour-power for less than the value the labour produces, and the difference between these two amounts is the surplus accumulated.

So the real question is: Why do workers not have the ability to employ themselves? Because the vast majority of the means of production are owned by a minority. How did that situation come about? Marx argues this situation came about and is maintained due to an enormous act of violence: During the last days of Feudalism, the Mercantile State did everything in it's power to dispossess the small producers and peasants. The Enclosures of common land, the establishment of artificial prices on un-settled land, banning hunting on forests, slavery, mercantilist monopolies and tariffs - all of this was part of a process that took the means of production from the many and put them in the hands of a minority. The "voluntary exchange" happens in a very involuntary context, workers and capitalists are not equal parties exchanging the commodity "labour-power" for the commodity "Capital"; it is an exchange between vastly unequal parties (one is completely reliant on the other) .

You must work for a living whether you want to or not, whether that's on land that you're farming or as part of a business organisation. The real question is: How do we work, in what conditions do we work, who gets to control the product of the work and what do they do with it? The answers to those questions give us the mode of production we live under. If we live in a class society, we have to work in a class society and our work must be understood in class terms. The fact we have to work is not the question, the fact we need to work in a class society is.

 One thing that can't be taken from workers is their labour-power. However, without access to viable means of production, labour-power is nothing. "It doesn't matter if you use it to till land or work a factory", but without the land or the factory, what are you going to do? Just look at the very existence of unemployment.

 After Capitalist relations of production were established, the bourgeois State must act as a monopoly on force and a defender of the Capitalist-type of private property, using continual coercion to maintain the system. Marx argues that no type of class society would stand without a State. Who would enforce Capitalist forms of private property and contracts and break up workers on strike if not a State? What would prevent workers from just seizing the means of production? It is on a similar line that Anarchists argue that Capitalist private property and relations of production are unenforceable in the absence of the State. The State isn't an "overarching" institution but part of the superstructure of Capitalism. If the most basic Capitalist social relations imply a conflict of interest, this will remain true regardless of the amount of government intervention in the economy.

The Marxist concept concerning the state is well-known. The state, as an historical category, is the tool of one class for suppressing other classes of society. If the state is a relation between men, then insofar as it oppresses, represses or dictates it does so in behalf of some men at the expense of others. Those who oppress and those who are oppressed represent a social division upon which the state is founded. This class division, this social antagonism as the source of the state power is the only scientific conception of the state.The core of state power is always the apparatus of violence: the police, the army and the courts of justice. The Marxist will always make use of and fight for democratic rights and liberties, but never believing that such demands may be obtained other than partially and incompletely under capitalist conditions. The socialist never attempt to hide that any success in such struggles under capitalist conditions, will only be partial and of limited permanence. Lasting and significant social progress will be part and parcel of an entirely economic system - socialism.

 The nature of the state is determined by its relation to the economic structure and the economic classes of society. The capitalist apologist  recognizes this fact by implication when he gives his own grounds for believing that the state is “impartial.” No sooner does the government, through a tax bill, legal decision, strike mediation or some other action yield to necessity, to class pressure, and deprive the capitalist class of 1% of its profits, than the pro-capitalist shouts: “You see, here is an anti-capitalist government.” He neglects to notice at the same time that the government has guaranteed, ensured, the other 99% of capitalist profits and the economic system which makes them possible. The superficial issues which so captivates the attention of the easily diverted media does not embrace the essence of the state power. Even if the working class were to win their battles on all these issues (which never happens), the government remains capitalist because the whole essential substratum of action and policy, which occupies the attention of the state 365 days of the year, is designed to uphold and administer the capitalist system.

The fact that the capitalist class or individual capitalists cannot get everything they want from the capitalist state does not at all impress. They can’t because circumstances make it impossible, not because the state power is against them. This is particularly true in the present period, when corporations must surrender a large portion of their profit to the war machine in order to safeguard the rest of it.  Some thoughtless and irresponsible (from their own viewpoint) critics on the libertarian right such as Ron and Rand Paul try to make political capital and anti-establishment platform of this, but they have been rejected by the overwhelming majority of the capitalist class in both the Republican and Democratic parties. For the rest, the capitalist class as a whole keeps up a running fire against high taxes, not because it could or would alter the tax structure fundamentally, but in order to keep its share as low as possible within the limits dictated by present circumstances.

The basis of the Koch brothers philosophy is that the existence of private ownership of the means of production makes it possible for the people to control the government because there are sources of power for them to lean on outside the government. If however private economic power is abolished, then there is a danger that when no power remains outside the government, government itself will rest on power. The “will of the people” could not prevail against the new pressures of government since only one power structure remains therefore the people are now disarmed. Here is the libertarian capitalist argument reduced to its bare bones: We need the capitalists and their power to rest upon in opposition to government.

 Historical research into the French, American, English, Dutch and other capitalist revolutions has demonstrated that the masses of the people (the professional and intellectuals, shopkeepers, workers, etc.) had to wrest these liberties from an unwilling capitalist class. Research find the power of the private propertied class to be a barrier in their way in all their efforts to control the government. Despite their vehemence against Marx, Middle America have to accept his law of capitalist development: that capital grows out of commodity production and that big capital grows out of little capital and that monopoly capital grows out of big capital, and that this process cannot be reversed by protests and lamentations so long as capitalism continues. We see the ridiculous spectacle of small-town conservatives  appealing to the Koch brothers and the Pauls, in all seriousness, that these are just the boys who will do the job!

In no country, after generations of capitalist rule, has democracy been carried to the full. In this country we have a hereditary chamber, a hereditary monarchy, and an irremovable judiciary, appointed by the elite from among the elite, to interpret and to enforce the laws, the whole forming a system of frustrating the people’s will which acted in a most effective manner. It is a system of “checks and balances” which reduces the rights of the population. Bourgeois democracy at its optimum is a restricted and partial form which serves as vehicle for the overlordship of the tiny portion of the population that owns the means of production.

In America there exists a president with near royal prerogative powers, and the administration, centralised in a way which only an autocracy could rival, invested with a plenitude of powers the Supreme Court is the supreme sanctifier of the laws. The “sovereignty” lies in the dropping of a piece of paper into a box every four or five or seven years. Democracy has been and still is to-day a  sham. Under its cover we had all along nothing else than the dictatorship of the capitalist class. Marx used the phrase “democratic swindle” whereby he meant it was a swindle not insofar as it was democratic but, on the contrary, insofar as it utilized democratic forms to frustrate genuine democratic control from below. Marx was referring to a country which had one of the most democratic  constitutional forms of the time: the United States. It was, indeed, “the model country of the democratic swindle” not because it was less democratic than others but for precisely the opposite reason. The fact that the US had developed the formal structure of the constitutional republic in the most democratic forms meant that its bourgeoisie likewise had to develop to its highest point the art of keeping the expression of popular opinion within channels satisfactory to its class interests. There has been a plethora of clever electoral systems devised to insert a manipulative factor into the forms of a more or less universal suffrage, beginning with the American Constitution. Engels would write  that “England is undoubtedly the freest, that is, the least unfree country in the world, North America not excepted”,  that the methods and forms of the political system are designed toward “making concessions merely in order to preserve this derelict structure as long as possible”. He goes on, “The Englishman is not free because of the law, but despite the law, if he can be considered free at all” , for it is the constant threat from below that ensures the recognition of democratic rights in practice. Engels concludes “But mere democracy is unable to remedy social evils. Democratic equality is a chimera, the struggle of the poor against the rich cannot be fought out on the ground of democracy or politics in general. Hence this stage too is only a transition, the last purely political measure that still is to be tried and from which a new element must immediately develop, a principle transcending everything political.This principle is the principle of socialism.”

What is democracy? It is the rule of the people, by the people, and for the people. It is our battle-cry in the class war. The Socialist Party has been sincere advocates and champions of democracy. The working class has succeeded in obtaining possession of political power. What is called bourgeois democracy, was never regarded by us as anything more than a means to an end. The fight for democratic forms of administration is part of the socialist effort; not its be-all and end-all but an integral part of it all. The issue has always been what will maximise the influence of the  workers movement on the political forces. Social democracy is not merely the replacement of the authority of bourgeois rulers with the authority of a socialist central committee but rooting out old habits of obedience and servility.  It is the use of all the means of political power to  expropriate the capitalist class – in the interests and through the will of the revolutionary majority, that is, in the spirit of socialist democracy. Without the conscious will and action of the majority of workers, there can be no socialism.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Anarchists and Left Communists Against Independence

Edinburgh Anarchist Federation have posted a blog that reflects many of the views of the Socialist Party enabling the Socialist Courier blog to quote extensively from it.

“Don’t buy into the ideology of the Yes campaign or its variant, left nationalism. Whatever the rhetoric of some on the Left, this is a Scottish nationalist campaign, just as the No camp represents a British nationalism.  Anyone who cares about class struggle politics needs to strongly oppose both.

Nationalism, whatever form it takes, does two things: it tries to create a community of interest between the bosses and the working class; and it binds this community to the capitalist nation-state, reinforcing the latter’s power and role in exploitation. There is no genuinely ‘progressive’ form that this can take. We have, as Paul Mattick observed, a century of experience of national liberation struggles where apparently progressive anti-imperialist movements culminated in an oppressive new ruling class. And we could now potentially see a new wave of independence movements in Europe in response to neoliberal restructuring and the more immediate crisis of capitalism.  Do we expect different results?...

Are smaller states better and more democratic? 

...Well, if we were to take a critical look at actually existing small European states we find:
That they’re certainly no more favourable to workers’ organising;
They are also coercive (which is the role of any state apparatus) and can be just as authoritarian (an example being the role played by the Catholic church backed by the Irish state);
They have been remarkably open to neoliberalism and austerity (which has had a devastating effect on small states from Finland to the Netherlands, never mind southern Europe);
There is a growing anti-immigrant trend related to systemic white supremacy across northern Europe;
That some have also sent willing to send troops abroad (Denmark in Afghanistan) or have aided others who have (Ireland again, offering Shannon airport for use by the US Air Force);
And they are always subject to the dictates of larger supranational structures and of capital itself....

The Nordic example

... Common Weal want us to emulate the Nordic states where thanks to a number of reasons – a strong labour movement,  available natural resources etc. – it has been able to maintain more of its welfare provision than Britain.
“ we still have a cabin on the upper deck, but it is the upper deck of Titanic.” - Asbjørn Wahl

 But all of the Nordic states have experienced their own neo-liberal offensive and inequality is growing there too.
Swedish welfare academic, Daniel Ankarloo, argues that the labour movement there has been ‘weakened by ... class co-operation’  and belief in a ‘social policy road to socialism’– i.e. that somehow the welfare model was an example of socialism in practice that just needed to be expanded.  Instead, to defend existing gains as well as to fight for a different society, we need to rediscover class militancy and that this, ‘radicalisation must ... come from below in the form of the self-organisation of the labour movement’. .

 What about the Scottish Left? 

...Both Common Weal and the vision of the Radical Independence campaign are concerned with trying to manage capitalism better.

 Common Weal is an explicitly class collaborationist think-tank – nicely summed up in its slogan ‘All of us first’.  Its proposals in creating a high-growth economy, are in reality about increasing the rate of exploitation and outcompeting workers internationally. Its advocacy of ‘work councils’ to smooth relations in the workplace is a necessary part of increasing productivity – i.e. profit. Where they have been used in Europe they have consistently undermined unions and workers’ militancy....

The most comprehensive statement made by members of the Radical Independence campaign, is a call for united frontism to the extent that socialism – even a bureacratic state ‘socialism’ – isn’t even on the agenda, but is treated as a utopian project for some distant future. It seeks to create a Scottish broad left – not an ‘anti-capitalist’ – party along the lines of Syriza or Die Linke, and it reproduces the same ‘Keynesian wish list’ based on the same weak analysis of the state and capital, critiqued so well by Michael Heinrich. Like Common Weal, it sprinkles radical rhetoric – participatory democracy, decentralisation – on its reformism.  It doesn’t differ substantially from the latter, but offers mild criticism of certain aspects, including its support for the Nordic model.

After the referendum

...We should not trust an independent Scottish state to share much wealth, to protect NHS provision, not to attack the unemployed or the disabled, not to make cuts, to deport people or remove trade union restrictions. Some are hopeful that the grassroots pro-independence movement will produce an oppositional social movement after secession.  But this is wishful thinking.  It would require it to reject its own ideological basis, its very nature as a cross-class alliance organised by forces who seek to gain political power. ..

Whatever the result of this referendum, the lasting gains we need depend most of all on our own capacity as a class for itself to organise and struggle...

The Internationalist Communist Tendency on the Referendum

The Left Communist organisation on their website also made some insightful comments of the referendum which again is well worth quoting

One of the ruling class’s weapons in its armoury is its ability to mask the reality of the exploiter/exploited class relation. Its web of cultural constructs is aimed at obscuring that reality - and the weave of that web is religion, race, gender and above all, nationalism. Nationalism isn’t “natural”. It is manufactured. It is the particularly manufactured ideology of the capitalist class. For them it is the perfect expression of their rule. They can pretend that in the nation we are all “free” even if some of us are freer than others because they have more money...Scottish Independence is just a diversion from the real issue based on a reactionary fantasy.

Post Referendum

If a ‘yes’ vote created a Scottish state, it would begin life already crippled with its share of UK National Debt – a sum estimated by the National Institute of Social Research to be £143 billion. That debt will have to be serviced, as will the debt incurred in the functioning of any capitalist state – borrowing for investment, infrastructure, defence, the social wage (pensions, health, welfare etc). For example, Edinburgh, Scotland's capital, is currently paying £5.8 million a year interest on its new 8 mile tram line even before any repayment of the £776 million capital costs.. Naturally, services such as libraries, social care, teachers and nurses etc ( all part of the social wage) are discretionary spending, while interest repayments are written in stone. The UK state, despite its vicious hacking back of the social wage, its use of cheap migrant labour to help drive wages down, its attack on working conditions and wages, has so far been unable to cut its deficit – in other words far from being able to address its debt, it is daily increasing it. Again, that debt incurs interest – and that interest is set by global money markets that take a very close interest in state spending. The Scandinavian states, for long hailed as examples of successful welfare states, are seeing their social spending slashed because the money markets demand it. National governments are expected to be ‘responsible’ (i.e. shaft the working class) or pay the price when they come to sell bonds, gilts or raise loans. This is an inescapable fact of crisis ridden global capitalism – no country is immune...

...Foreign capital investment, crucial to any Scottish state will expect, and get feather-bedded treatment in terms of grants and tax-breaks. What the workers will get can be seen in the brutal working conditions of the staff in the huge Amazon depot at Dunfermline. Any serious attempt by a Scottish government to improve working conditions there would see Amazon pack up and move elsewhere. No surprise in this – it’s how capitalism operates. The surprise lies only in the fact that so many are prepared to believe ‘We’re different up here’...

....There is only one internationalist response to this referendum – fuck it! The real issue for the world’s workers is that they face an increasingly dire future under whichever capitalist regime rules us.... Our only hope lies in getting rid of the system that produces such misery and such abominations. In the long run only autonomous working class struggle on our OWN terrain can hold out any hope for our future. In the short term, refusing to be dragged in to ruling class power plays is a crucial first step – seeing our class brothers and sisters sucked into nationalist traps in the likes of Ukraine, Libya, Gaza and Kurdistan only underlines the importance of this....

Socialist Courier has to add the caveat that neither group accepts our position that we support the democratic principle of voting in the referendum by going to the polling station and spoiling our ballot. Neither No, Nor Yes But World Socialism. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Chinese Hypocrisy

Wealthy Chinese tourists are splashing out up to £100,000 on hunting trips to Scotland, so they can feel like Downton Abbey's Earl of Grantham. Inspired by the ITV series, hunting parties from China are hiring out castles with butlers and staff included so they can try their hand at bagging some of the biggest game roaming the countryside. 'Among those visiting is Jack Ma, one of China's richest men. He recently hired out Aldourie Castle near Loch Ness for £36,000. Mr Ma spent a week with 11 friends on the 500 acre estate, also hiring staff including a butler and cook.' (Daily Mail, 11 August) Mr Ma is reckoned to have a fortune of over £6 billion. Oh, by the way the Chinese government claims they have communism in China! RD

Workers’ Knowledge

 Capitalism has always been sold as the best way for the greatest number of people to improve themselves through their own efforts. Many however have neither the means nor the opportunity to move up the ladder. While there exists a great potential for moving down the rungs, in all reality there is very little possibility for the vast majority to climb up. The notion that anyone can reach whatever level of success they desire, while it does happen for some, is far from being true and is absolutely one of the biggest myths ever propagated.

Almost all of us are slaves to the system. Many think it’s all too complex to change the system. If so then we can all just throw up our hands and surrender to a life of servitude for ourselves and those we leave behind.  But the truth is change can be made with an informed people working to effect political change.

World capitalism is in a profound crisis. The ruling class is seeking to claw its way out of disaster by chipping away at all the hard-won gains of working people. In the face of this assault the workers are tragically misled and therefore disunited. The bulk of our class feels itself to be powerless, lacking any credible alternative to the politicians who betray them at every turn. Many workers resign themselves to clinging on, hoping that the present shallow economic upswing will bring relief. Others are fighting, attempting to put an end to the prevailing desperation. The only real deterrent to the attack on  workers by capitalism, is the socialist revolution because capitalism will yield its minimal sops and reforms only out of fear of mass unrest that they cannot control.

There is no short cut to the social revolution. Reformism is a programme of relying on gradual change and making things a little bit better, slowly. Reforms are regarded by the revisionists as a partial realisation of socialism. We  oppose the mechanical theory that every crisis inevitably carries the working class towards socialism. Marxists do not believe in the automatic theory that capitalism must collapse and that socialism must emerge from the ruin. Such is a fool’s conception of history, not the materialist conception of history. Capitalist society is complex, there are many ways it can drag out a slow and painful existence. History does not solve problems and contradictions. It is human will and initiative that comes forward as vital factors in social development. Marxists recognise the reaction of the human factor upon history, and it is this that compels us to pay so much attention to political strategy. There is no socialism without the class struggle. The class struggle, is a struggle for power. The class struggle itself is a form of war, social war, and class power decides the issue. The capture of the state machine is the first step in the social revolution, but the seizure of factories by the workers is also an act of the greatest importance in relation to such conquest.

For genuine socialists building class consciousness is fundamental. Once workers understand their material interests, not just as good ideas or moral imperatives but as inescapable necessities, they will embrace revolution. Workers recognising their self-interest will see the absolute need for the unity of their class in order to overthrow the capitalist class. This revolutionary consciousness is not a matter of education in any narrow sense but comes from  the struggle between the classes, struggle in acts as well as ideas which are in turn derived from action, past and present, the living class struggle. The working class continually generates and regenerates its consciousness.

The vanguard intellectuals grow cynical about the potential of the workers for revolution.  Confident that their superior knowledge and understanding entitles them to lead the downtrodden  they try  to manipulate people to achieve their own goals: the rationalisation of capitalism. They assume themselves to be  general staff of the proletariat, who are to be the cannon fodder to be commanded by The Party “in the name of the working class”. Convinced that the the majority  cannot accomplish its tasks, the the leadership assume their own “socialist” programme are an adequate replacement for the consciousness of the workers and attempts to become the “condescending savior”.

In the words of the Socialist Party of Canada:
" order to fit themselves for this task the workers must acquire the consciousness which alone can enable them to do so. This consciousness must comprise, first of all, a knowledge of their class position. They must realize that, while they produce all wealth, their share of it will not, under the present system, be more than sufficient to enable them to reproduce their efficiency as wealth producers. They must realize that also, under the system they will remain subject to all the misery of unemployment, the anxiety of the threat of unemployment, and the cares of poverty. They must understand next the implications of their position – that the only hope of any real betterment lies in abolishing the social system which reduces them to mere sellers of their labor power, exploited by the capitalists.

“They will see then, since this involves dispossessing the master class of the means through which alone the exploitation of labor power can be achieved, there must necessarily be a struggle between the two classes – the one to maintain the present system of private (or class) ownership of the means of living and the other to wrest such ownership from them and make these things the property of society as a whole. This is the struggle of a dominant class to maintain its position of exploitation, on the one hand, and of an enslaved and exploited class to obtain its emancipation, on the other. It is a class struggle.

“A class which understands all this is class-conscious. It has only to find the means and the method by which to proceed, in order to become the fit instrument of the revolution.”

Every sincere socialist thinks and asks: How can the socialist movement be unified and strengthened? The first task for the workers in all countries of the world is to break from the capitalist class and their political parties, and renounce any and all sympathy and support for their parties. The workers must build a party of their own with the aim of taking the power out of the hands of the capitalist class and into their own hands. A major economic crisis arose in the capitalist world and in its desperation to shore up the system the capitalist employing class have been launching attacks against the pay and living standards of the workers. Capitalism promises the people not amelioration of conditions but austerity and oppression. While bailing out the corporations the government declines to open the books of big business so that the truth about prices, wages, cost of production, distribution and profits, executive salaries and bonuses, kickbacks and bribery, so that the waste and inefficiency, so that the source of the crisis of the economy is laid bare. The capitalist system, not workers is responsible for the recession.

Reformists throws all the blame for problems upon the government of the day and contends that they could permanently improve the material comfort of the masses if its proposals were adopted by Parliament. Socialists often hear the comment that "Socialism is a good idea but it’s not practical." But today it’s becoming more apparent than ever that it is the present system — capitalism — that is impractical and unworkable. Despite the campaign of lies and distortions about the socialist viewpoint we are confident that developing realities, together with the conscious participation of all who consider themselves socialists will advance the workers’ movement. Capitalism — the rule of commerce and business — must be abolished.  Working people need to throw the capitalist parties out of office and form their own “government”  that will fundamentally transform society. The entire apparatus of the State, set up to defend the interests of the corporations, must be transformed.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Japanese Hypocrisy

270,000 have signed a petition to the Norwegian Nobel Committee for Japan to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for Article 9 of the Japanese constitution. The article states that "the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or the use of force as a means of settling international disputes", and promises "land, sea and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained". 'Japan actually has one of the biggest military forces in the world, although it operates under strict constraints. These were relaxed earlier this year when Mr Abe's government reasserted the "right to collective self-defence", which would allow Japanese troops to fight side by side with allies overseas.' (Times, 25 August) So the constitution renounces war but they have one of the biggest military forces in the world. RD

Guardian Letter

Discussing the referendum earlier this week, Sir Tom Hunter said, "whatever the people decide we'll just get on with it" (Report, 20 August).  And the "we" Scotland's first billionaire is referring to is really the few who own the country.  "That's democracy", he concedes, generously.  In fact it is the opposite, but he neatly exposes the irrelevance of the referendum and the sham that is democracy within capitalism.

Brian Gardner
Glasgow Branch
Socialist Party of Great Britain

A Rose by any other Name

There is no such thing as politics without projecting ideas about the future. The only difference is that those who predict that things will always remain the same do not know that they are making a prediction. The reformists dream of the establishment of social peace between the classes, between exploited and exploiters, without abolishing exploitation but instead by exercising self-restraint  and by the giving up of all “excessive” and “extreme” demands antagonisms which exist between the worker and capitalist would disappear.  It is impossible for a socialist to share this illusion of the reconciliation of classes. Social harmony shall come about by the ABOLITION of classes. The leading principle of socialism is the overthrow of the capitalist system, and the establishing in its place of a Co-operative Commonwealth.

The words socialist and communist are changing their meaning just as the change in definition of the word christian meant heretics were burned by thousands in the name of the love thy neighbour. Lenin abandoned the word socialism and invented the belief of making socialism mean a “first stage” in the development of communism, thus elaborating the smoke-screen and making it possible to put over in the name of “socialism” the Bolshevik policies of state capitalism.

We wish to make it quite clear as to our exact aim and object. We are socialists, wishful above all things to advance socialism, and by socialism we mean the common or collective ownership of all the wealth production, and this involves the complete ABOLITION of the capitalist system. Socialism means a classless society, and a classless society means that a privileged minority of the population are not in a position to enjoy the national wealth, while the majority live only on their labour to produce it. It means especially that privileged individuals who do have excess income cannot invest it in the instruments of production with which others work, thus reducing them to a position of fixed subservience. It means an end of rent, profit, and interest on stocks and bonds, an end of “surplus value”, an end of the exploitation of labour. This economic change is regarded by socialists as pre-requisite and fundamental.

Being socialists, we are therefore for the labour movement and as trade unionists we value unions very highly, but we should never side with unions who adopted an anti-socialist attitude.  Effective unions will never exist till the workers are revolutionary socialists, just as effective political action can never come till the people are thoroughly class-conscious and are fully determined to stop all robbery by moulding present-day capitalism into the co-operative commonwealth.

One of the early criticisms of syndicalism the Socialist Party had was that it was a continuance of private ownership albeit sectional ownership. The coal mines do not belong to the coal miners merely because they work in them. The road-builders might as well claim the streets if that was the case. It would be of small gain to expropriate the present individual owners of the means of production merely to put them in the hands of other groups of individuals, who would be actuated by the same motive of making the most out of them which was permitted. It is only in the name of and for the benefit of the people as a whole that the present possessors can be rightfully expropriated. This common  ownership of wealth by all people is the economic cornerstone of  the brotherhood of all men. We ask the working class to organise with us to end the domination of private ownership — with its poverty-breeding system of unplanned production — and substitute in its place the Socialist Co-operative Commonwealth in which every worker shall have the free exercise and full benefit of his or her faculties.

 Individual production makes individual ownership necessary. Large-scale production, on the contrary, means co-operation or social production. In mass production the individual does not work alone, but a large number of workers work together to produce a whole. Accordingly, the modern instruments of production are extensive and powerful. It has become wholly impossible that every single worker should own his own instruments of production. Ownership by the workers in common of the instruments of production means a co-operative system of production and the extinction of the exploitation of the workers, who become masters of their own products and who themselves appropriate the surplus of which, under our system, they are deprived by the capitalist. To substitute common, for private, ownership in the means of production, this it is the economic development we are urging.

 If all the machinery and technology at the disposal of mankind  to-day were applied co-operatively to the supply of useful goods and social luxuries, in Robert Owen’s words “wealth might easily be made as plentiful as water.” Non-arduous, enjoyable labour by all members of the community would thus produce plenty for all, and wages and prices would disappear. The object is not the enactment of palliative reforms under capitalism, nor the obtaining of higher wages under existing circumstances, but the immediate establishment of a co-operative commonwealth. That is, in fact, the emancipation of the whole wage-slave class.

When you join the Socialist Party you enjoy the thrill of a new aspiration; you are no longer a blinkered wage-slave. You begin to understand your true and vital relationship to your fellow-workers. You are a person and you have a brain, and if you do not use it in your own interests you are guilty of betraying yourself. When we unite and act together, the world is ours. Together we shall form a world wide Co-operative Commonwealth and when the world-wide co-operative commonwealth having been established, mankind for the first time be ensured the material and mental and moral requisites of a grand and noble existence.  The Co-operative Commonwealth that has been the aim of generations of working-class will attain its full meaning and realisation only with the ending of capitalist rule. The needs of all will be met. It will mean the beginning of  peace and plenty for all the inhabitants of the Earth, the beginning of co-operation between the peoples of the Earth.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

D-I-Y - Build A Sane World

The Socialist Party is the only organisation with a "Do It Yourself" plan for changing society. We have been almost alone have warned of the dangers of depending upon "leaders" who want to do your thinking for you. For years we have explained that since the working class is intelligent enough to plan, design build and operate the complex and complicated industries throughout the world, it is also intelligent enough to collectively own and administer those same productive forces through the democracy of socialism.

Instead of workers being divided into hostile groups competing for jobs that will pay enough to keep a family until next payday, we will work in harmony, cooperating to produce most efficiently the best possible products, since we will all directly benefit from each improvement in quality and quantity of the goods and services we have made available. Socialism is not a paternalistic society in which the good things are handed down to you. It is a society of economic equality, which is to say, equality of economic opportunity. You will have full say in the industrial democracy of socialism.

 The Socialist  Party calls upon the majority to vote for the change from private ownership to social ownership. You can "Do It Yourself" at the ballot box.

 It is important that we restate in definite terms what the Socialist Party is and what it stands for, at the same time pointing out the anti-socialist character of such political parties as the "socialist" and "workers" parties. Socialism will have no private ownership in the necessaries of life, i.e., the industries and the system of communication and distribution, as well as the social services. Second, there will be no political State, no political parties, no politicians, and, accordingly, there will be no State ownership or bureaucratic control of these necessaries of life. Third, there will be no wage system, hence, no exploitation. In place of private and/or state ownership, we shall have social ownership of the necessaries of life. Socialism is a social system under which all the instruments of production, distribution, education, health, etc., are owned, controlled and administered by the people, for the people.

We do not advocate a hodgepodge of state ownership or municipal ownership all of which would make necessary the retention of the political state and give politicians positions of power as the ruling bureaucrats making meaningless promises in the name of "socialism." They pay lip service to "social ownership," "industrial democracy," "production for use," and then in the next breath advocate higher minimum wages, expanded unemployment and old-age benefits, free maternity care, equal pay for women, and the like. Their "ace-in-the-hole" is "a Workers' State. These political hucksters have no right to the title "socialist," but unfortunately there is no way to stop them from using it. These reformists opportunistic outfits while the Socialist Party is a political party whose aim is, and always has been, the abolition of capitalism and the establishment of socialism.

But capitalism cannot be abolished and replaced by socialism by a political party despite claims of such phony "socialists". That is a task that only the workers as a class can do for themselves. The social revolution cannot be accomplished unless the working class becomes conscious of its class interests  The Socialist Party demands, via the ballot box, the unconditional surrender of capitalism, "locking out" the capitalist class and continuing production and social services under the direction of a workers and community councils.  Together we shall do the common-sense thing; make the means of production our collective property, abolish exploitation of the many by the few, and use our productive genius to create leisure and abundance for all. Society must be reconstructed and workers of hand and brain must build this new world and emancipate themselves through their own class conscious efforts and they can apply their collective strength to the task at hand only through organisation. Politically workers must draw together in a party that stands for their own collective interests. For too long workers have relied on capitalist politicians to speak for them. They must build their own political organization, to challenge the domination of the capitalist class and help all workers realize how socialism serves their needs, and how it can be won. But a political party by itself is not enough. Socialism means more than a change in ideas, or a different set of political figures in government. It means that the masses of working people must build the new forms of socialist administration.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Saying like it is

You've read the misinformation about SOCIALISM ... now read the FACTS!

Socialism means the common ownership by all the people of the factories, mills, mines, railroads, land and all the other means of wealth-production. Socialism means production of things to satisfy human needs, and not, as under capitalism, for sale and profit. Socialism means free access. Socialism, by eliminating the scandalous waste resulting from capitalist anarchy, and by accelerating the adoption of new techniques and inventions, will greatly increase the wealth available for the people's consumption and enjoyment. Improved technology, especially automation, has greatly increased the productivity of American workers. And while, under capitalism, the workers are denied the fruits of technology, under Socialism it will insure material well-being for all beyond the dreams of avarice.

For you, as an individual, socialism means a full, happy and useful life. It means the opportunity to develop all your faculties and talents. It means that, instead of being a mere chattel bought and sold in the labour market, an appendage to a machine, you will take your place as a human being in a free society of human beings.

Your job in socialism will not be dependent on the caprice either of a private employer or the capitalist market. When things are produced to satisfy human needs, instead of primarily for sale and profit, forced unemployment will be an impossibility. The "demand," instead of being limited to what people can buy, will be limited only to what people can use. Nor will technological unemployment be possible in socialism. Instead of kicking workers out of their jobs, the improved methods and facilities will kick hours out of the working day. "Jobs for all" under capitalism is a hypocritical slogan, except possibly when capitalism is preparing for, or engaged in, an all-out war. Socialism alone can give jobs for all and open wide the doorway to economic opportunity. Your hours of work in socialism will be the minimum necessary to fulfill society's needs. Work is not the end and aim of man's existence; it is the means to an end. We do not live to work; we work to live. Socialism will, therefore, strive in every way to lighten the labor of man and give him the leisure to develop his faculties and live a happy, healthful, useful life. It is estimated that, with the facilities we now have, by the elimination of capitalist waste and duplication, and by opening jobs at useful work to all who are now deprived of them, we could produce an abundance for all by working four hours a day, three or four days a week, for half a year. In socialism, the workers would operate and manage the industries themselves. In each factory and plant, they would elect their own foremen and management committees.

You’ve read that socialism would result in the loss of individual liberty; that all power would be surrendered to the state or the government, and a harsh bureaucracy would regulate our lives and enforce blind obedience. The fact is that socialism rejects the state! Socialists hold with Karl Marx that "The existence of the state is inseparable from the existence of slavery." How then, in the name of common sense, could socialists wish to glorify the state and surrender to it? On the contrary - where there is socialism, there can be no state, and where there is a state, there can be no socialism! Socialism rests on democracy. All power will reside in the hands of the people. Socialism does not mean nationalisation, or government ownership and control of industry. Socialism rejects nationalisation or government ownership of industry! For the workers, government ownership is merely a change of masters - it brings no solution to their problems.  Nothing was changed except that, instead of being exploited directly by the capitalists, the workers were exploited by the state for the benefit of the capitalist class. Socialism is not bureaucratic management. Socialism means complete control by the workers and their community, in other words, social ownership and control by the people.

In a socialist society, there will be no wage system. No longer will workers live under the fear of being laid off, or be compelled to spend their lives at some job they hate or are unsuited for.  With socialism we will produce for use and to satisfy the needs of all the people. Under capitalism, the industries operate for one purpose-to earn a profit for their owners. Under this system, food is not grown primarily to be eaten. It is grown to be sold. Cars are not manufactured primarily to be driven. They are made to be sold. If there are enough buyers here and abroad, then the capitalists will have their factories turn out cars, TV sets, and everything else for which buyers can be found. But if people lack money, if the domestic and foreign markets cannot absorb them, then these factories shut down, and the country stagnates, no matter how much people need these commodities. Inside socialism, the factories and industries would be used to benefit all of us, not restricted to the creation of profits for the enrichment of a small group of capitalist owners. Inside socialism, our farmlands would yield an abundance without great toil; the factories, mines and mills would be the safest, the most modern, the most efficient possible, and productive beyond our wildest dreams- and without toil and drudgery. Our natural resources would be intelligently conserved, our schools would have the finest facilities, and they would be devoted to developing complete human beings, not wage slaves who are trained to hire themselves out for someone else's profit. Our hospitals and social services will create and maintain the finest health and recreational facilities.

 Automation and our technological  and scientific knowledge have so vastly increased ability to produce what we need and wants, that there is no longer any excuse whatsoever for the poverty of a single member of society. Today, we have the material possibility of abundance for everyone, and the promise of the leisure in which to enjoy it. But under capitalism, automation and computers are used to replace workers and increase profits. Instead of creating a society of abundance, capitalism uses machinery to create unemployment and poverty. But it is not new technology that threatens us at all. Improved productivity is not an evil. It is a blessing. It is under capitalism that automation is used for anti-social purposes. There is nothing threatening about labour-saving machinery. The only threat is the fact that this machinery and industries are the exclusive property of a small minority of people -- the capitalist class; and the fact that these industries are used for the private profit of their owners and not for the benefit of the vast majority. When the  means of production and distribution belong to all of society, then everyone in that society will share and benefit. Socialism will produce an abundance for all.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

A truly green world can be had by all

How long can people go on pretending that nothing is amiss with the world's weather? Legend has it that Nero fiddled while Rome burned. Not to be outdone, the present ruling class is fiddling while the Earth burns up.

 Capitalism's profit motive is the culprit for this, as well as many other unthinkable environmental disasters in the making. The profit motive and capitalism are bringing civilisation to the brink of disaster, and time is running out to take corrective actions where it is still possible or to lessen the effects where the damage is already too advanced to be undone. It ought to be clear by now that the system primarily responsible for bringing humanity such peril and which even now continues to ignore the warnings of scientists is not about to spend the hundreds of billions needed to avert or mitigate the dangers. Socially harmful decisions are made because, in one way or another, they serve the profit interests of the capitalist class. Capitalist class rule over the economy also explains why government regulation is so ineffective: under capitalism, government itself is essentially a tool of the capitalist class. Politicians may be elected "democratically," but because they are financed, supported and decisively influenced by the economic power of the capitalist class, democratic forms are reduced to a farce. The capitalist class and its government will never be able to solve the environmental crisis. They and their system are the problem.

Freed from any restrictions imposed by private-ownership interests and operating only for the good of humankind and the world, and in sharp contrast to the feeble and timid actions of the environmental activists tied to the capitalist system who are perennially preoccupied with garnering political influence among politicians and trying to raise the monetary funds to carry on their work socialists find themselves in the task of rebuilding our world. The action workers must take is to realise their  political power with the goal of building a new society with completely different motives for production -- human needs and wants instead of profit -- and to organise their own political party to challenge the political power of the capitalists, express their mandate for change at the ballot box and dismantle the state altogether.

 Too often environmentalists are limited in their world view and understanding of the capitalist system, imbued with notions of the "evil men [or corporations]" theory of history, are prone to divorce their specific environmental cause from the whole socio-economic fabric. These environmental warriors of capitalist society endlessly flounder, winning, at best, only a delaying action against the disintegrating effects of capitalism on the natural world. Government regulations pose no threat to capitalism, and never have, regardless of how they may affect or place certain restraints on specific capitalist interests. The real threat to capitalism and the crimes that capitalism commits against nature and humanity is an informed and active working class. Only socialism can satisfy our needs while operating all the industries in harmony with the best interest of the whole planet. However, until the working class decides that it must take control of the economy and establish a new form of democratic government based on collective and democratic ownership of the economy, all creatures on earth will continue to suffer under the capitalist dictum of "business as usual."

The best capitalism can do is to substitute one set of risks for another. Every time capitalism "solves" a problem it creates a new one. It will take a fundamentally different type of social and economic system to even begin to rationally address the problem of global warming-- a socialist society, freed from what Marx once referred to as "the furies of private interest" that now control energy sources and its uses. As always, the moneyed interests come first, and people last. The fossil-fuel industrial complex spends millions of its ill-gotten profits on a persistent campaign of disinformation that is readily augmented, amplified and widely disseminated by the capitalist media. Despite all warnings, the situation will continue to deteriorate as long as the capitalist system continues to exist. The capitalists will defend their source of profits by every means in their power and we will near ever closer to the brink of social disaster. We'll be taken over the edge of the abyss unless the workers awaken to the danger, recognise that capitalism is both the cause of the problem and the obstacle to its solution, and take steps to abolish capitalism and establish socialism.

 There exists mountains of studies, reports and research papers that amount to indictments of capitalism as the culprit for the destruction of the environment. University libraries are bulging,  publishers are glutted and periodicals are saturated with facts and figures. Hardly anything seems to have escaped the scrutiny of those scientists who have produced  findings that Nature and the planet’s eco-system is in deep trouble. Rare indeed are explicit condemnations of the capitalist systems operations. These scientists have drawn conclusions, without the essential inference that environmental degradation is inherent in capitalist development. Such an inference would, of course, have led to only one conclusion: that meaningful action to repair our world can only be taken when the competitive pressures of capitalism, indeed the capitalist system itself, is abolished and socialism established.

Among the most serious problems facing society today is that of environmental pollution and
 destruction. Air pollution, acid rain and acidic seas, tainted and toxic water, poisonous industrial pollutants in our rivers and oceans, cancer-producing pesticides on the food we eat, unhealthy hormones and antibiotics in meat and dairy products, nuclear waste leakage and accidents like Japan’s Fukushima, ozone depletion and last but by no means the least, global warming -- the list of bad news on the environment is seemingly unending.

Marx and Engels perceived enormous squandering of society's resources, a fact that caused Engels to observe: "When one observes how here in London alone a greater quantity of manure than is produced by the whole kingdom of Saxony is poured away every day into the sea with an expenditure of enormous sums, and what colossal structures are necessary in order to prevent this manure from poisoning the whole of London, then the utopia of abolishing the distinction between town and country is given a remarkably practical basis." (The Housing Question.)

The world in which we live does not belong to this generation, or even to the human species so is it reasonable, then, to permit its ongoing destruction -- not by the humanity, but by that tiny minority of the human species that is befouling the nest of all -- the capitalist class? There is no reason whatsoever  that prevents mankind from living in harmony with its natural surroundings. Indeed, humanity is itself an integral part of the total environment and no more at odds with it by nature than any other animal. Pollution is not an inevitable by-product of modern industry. Methods exist or can readily be developed to safely neutralize, recycle or contain most industrial wastes. Less polluting forms of transportation and energy CAN be built. Adequate supplies of food CAN be grown without deadly pesticides. The problem is that, under capitalism, the majority of people have no power to make these kinds of decisions about production. Under the capitalist system, production decisions are made by the small, wealthy minority that owns and controls the industries and services -- the capitalist class. And the capitalists who make up that class make their decisions to serve, first and foremost, one goal -- that of maximising profit for themselves. That is where the environmental crisis begins  and offer  grim testament to the anti-social character of capitalism.

Capitalism was at one time a necessary development of the human species  humanity must continue to progress its social development -- to socialism.  It seems all too obvious that every move ruling classes make is calculated to increase their profits or consolidate their power over the peoples and the countries they control. The clean up of polluted waters, the reclamation of toxic land, and the restoration of the natural environment generally will have to wait for the advent of socialism. That is the only sane, logical and practical way to eliminate all such unnatural disasters because it is the only way to take control of the economy away from an impervious ruling class and place it under the direct control of society as a whole. A socialist industrial democracy  is what is needed to solve the environmental crisis. By placing the economic decision-making power  in the hands of the people, by eliminating capitalist control and the profit motive in favor of a system in which workers produce to meet their own needs and wants, the necessary resources and labour could be devoted to stop pollution at its source and repair the damage already done. Socialism, of course, could not immediately halt the use of coal, oil and nucclear power as energy sources; nor could it immediately clear the atmosphere of the already accumulated greenhouse gases. Socialism could and would set corrective processes in motion by eliminating the anarchy and duplication characteristic of capitalist production; by putting an end to the massive production of nuclear arms; by decreasing the use of fossil fuels wherever possible; by the elimination of a host of other wasteful industrial activities and polluting practices that are part and parcel of the capitalist system and the mad drive for profits that it engenders. It would, thereby, provide time and resources to our researchers and scientists to enable them to discover and/or develop alternative non-polluting and renewable energy sources, even as nature begins to clear the atmosphere.

History cannot stand still. If we do not move forward we must either stagnate or regress. It is time to choose. 

Who Owns the North Pole (part 74)

“Our government is … expanding our economic and scientific opportunities by defining Canada’s last frontier,” said Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq in a Canadian government statement. “This is important to Canadians, especially those in the North, as this is their future and prosperity at stake.”

Russia's growing military presence in the Arctic is a concern and Canada should not get complacent about it, Canada’s  Prime Minister Stephen Harper said.  Russia is busy rebuilding former Soviet-era military bases in its north, and has a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines and icebreakers patrolling its waters. Russian planes have also tested the boundaries of Canadian airspace, Harper said. "I just think we should not be complacent, because we have seen over the period that President Putin has been in power just a gradual growing in aggressiveness of his government toward neighbours and the gradual military assertiveness of that country, and I just think it's something we should never be too at ease about."

In the coming days, the prime minister will take part in a series of military manoeuvres in the Northwest Passage meant to assert Canada's Arctic sovereignty.  Harper is scheduled to observe the Canadian Armed Forces’ annual military exercises near Baffin Island. Operation Nanook, now in its seventh year, is meant to demonstrate Canada’s ability to respond to threats and emergencies in its northern waters — including working with Denmark, the United States and territorial governments.

The Canadian Forces will develop a network of sites throughout the Arctic in order to stockpile equipment if needed and move troops and gear quickly into the region in case of emergency, according to documents obtained by Postmedia News. The military hopes to have the sites in place by 2018. “A series of Northern Operations Hubs will be created with the view to facilitate initial rapid deployment and up to 30 days sustained operations in the North,” wrote Lt.-Gen. Stuart Beare in outlining his plan. Beare is head of the Canadian Joint Operations Command, responsible for military operations both at home and abroad.

Earlier this month, the Canadian government announced that the CCGS Louis S. St. Laurent and CCGS Terry Fox were heading north to conduct scientific surveys in support of a claim to the North Pole. Like all waters more than 200 nautical miles (370 kilometres) from shore, the ocean at the North Pole is international. The only sovereign rights that could possible exist concern seabed resources. Yet according to Mr. Harper, claiming the North Pole is central to defending Canada’s Arctic sovereignty.

Although Canada has rights over extensive areas of seabed elsewhere in the Arctic Ocean, it has no basis for a claim at the North Pole. This is because international law uses the “equidistance” principle to delimit maritime boundaries. According to this principle, boundaries between adjacent coastal states are drawn along a line, every point of which is an equal distance from the respective shores.

In 2012, Canada and Denmark used the equidistance principle to delimit a boundary 200 nautical miles into the Lincoln Sea, north of Canada’s Ellesmere Island and Denmark’s Greenland.Although the boundary does not extend beyond 200 nautical miles, the principle of equidistance will serve as the basis for an eventual agreement separating rights beyond this point. Like it or not, the North Pole falls on the Danish side of the equidistance line – it will never be Canadian.  Harper knows that Canada’s claim will fail. But he also knows that the failure will emerge only after he leaves office. In the meantime, the North Pole presents him with an opportunity to rehabilitate his image as a champion of Canada’s Arctic sovereignty.

 A separate issue concerns the extent of Canada’s rights along the Lomonosov Ridge. This underwater mountain range runs from Ellesmere Island and Greenland toward Russia’s New Siberian Islands. The Lomonosov Ridge passes near but not over the North Pole, which remains off to the Danish side of the Arctic Ocean. According to international law, Canada, Denmark, and Russia may assert rights over this submarine structure if they are able to scientifically demonstrate that the formation is a “natural prolongation” of their land mass. Canadian and Danish scientists believe the Lomonosov Ridge is a prolongation of both Ellesmere Island and Greenland, while Russian scientists believe the Lomonosov Ridge is a prolongation of Asia. Scientists on both sides may well be right, since North America and Asia were once a single continent. Consequently, Canada, Denmark, and Russia could all have legitimate claims over the Lomonosov Ridge.

From here and here

Saturday, August 23, 2014

With God On His Side

With the murder of an American journalist in Iraq the President of the USA burst forth with an eloquent tirade. 'In a riposte to militants' claims to be flying the flag of Islam, he added "No just God would stand for what they did yesterday." (Times, 21 August) President Obama and his supporting countrymen would probably imagine the same imagined god gave his approval to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Wow, it must be great to have a political leader with an insight to the morals of god. RD

For world socialism from below

"The nationality of the toilers is neither French nor English nor German; it is toil, free slavery, sale of the self. His government is neither French nor English nor German; it is Capital. His native air is neither French nor German nor English; it is the air of the factory. The land which belongs to him is neither French nor English nor German; it is a few feet under the ground.” -- Karl Marx

In the Communist Manifesto, Karl and Frederick declared:
"The bourgeoisie has through its exploitation of the world's market given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country. To the great chagrin of reactionists, it has drawn from under the feet of industry the national ground on which it stood." Ever since Marx and Engels gave voice to the interests of the proletariat, the socialist working-class movement has been recognised as an internationalist one. Capitalism is international; so is socialism to be.

Today, it leaves no vestige of reason for the continuance of the spirit of nationalism among the working class. Workers do not own the state or the industries, and they have no meaningful say over either of them. That is as true in Scotland as it is in the United Kingdom, or anywhere else in the world.

Common sense should tell workers that the cause of declining wages, spreading economic insecurity and unemployment has nothing to do with who rules in Westminister or sits in Holyrood.
Common sense should tell workers that politicians don't decide when factories will close down or how many workers are laid off.
Common sense should tell workers that in a capitalist economy those decisions are made by those who own the factories, mills, mines and other means of wealth production.
Common sense should tell workers that capitalists make those decisions in their own interests, not in the interests of the working class.

Increased productivity, decreasing wages, the massive loss of full-time jobs, growing economic insecurity and the widening of the wealth gap proves that the capitalist system of private ownership and profit production is based on the exploitation of the working class. As long as this foundation of society remains this trend will continue regardless of the claims and promises of politicians, Scottish nationalist or British nationalist. As long as the working class tolerates the private ownership and control of the economy, workers will be used and disposed of at the profit whims of the tiny capitalist class.

 The internationalist nature of the socialist movement has its roots in the common oppression experienced by all workers and in the international character of the capitalist system itself. Internationalism is a powerful antidote for some of capitalism's most vicious and virulent ideologies, including racism, nationalism and divisive chauvinism of all kinds. A clear view of the communality of interests of the oppressed class throughout the world provides a powerful bulwark against the propaganda which issues daily from ruling-class sources. Recognition of the interest all exploited peoples have in ending the systems of class rule which dominate the world is a large step toward exposing and withdrawing support from the nationalist aims of their respective ruling classes. Scottish left nationalists can use all the sophistry they wish by disguising their objectives through the invention of such phrases as “internationalism from below” but it simply won’t hide the fact that they offer succor to the section of the Scottish capitalist class who consider their vested interest is having more control in the local economy and international trade.

In their practical dealings, the capitalists renounce nationalism. The multinational corporations stand today as monuments of their class cosmopolitanism. Nevertheless, when the need arises to promote their national capitalist interests they have their political lackeys fan the fires of nationalism. "National" interests are said to be in danger. These, of course, are the material interests of the capitalist class, but by identifying them as "national" interests the fact is obscured. Even paupers are made to feel that they have a stake in defending these interests, for they too are part of the nation. The nation is held up as the embodiment of a higher authority to which all owe allegiance. But behind the "nation" is the national capitalist state, and behind the state the ruling class for whom it acts as executive committee.

Nationalism is employed by the capitalist class deliberately to submerge the class struggle and to blind the workers to their own class interests. Internationally it is used to keep the working classes of the world divided against each other, and to blinker them to their common struggle and common aim. Nationally it is used to make the demands of the workers seem in conflict with "national interests," and their efforts to enforce these demands as threats to "national unity."

 Socialist internationalism means that workers' real interests and loyalties lie in supporting the efforts of workers worldwide in the class struggle; in supporting all workers' efforts to resist their exploiters and defeat their exploiters through the establishment of socialism. It means rejecting nationalism and the efforts of ruling-class nation-states to pit workers against each other in economic competition or set them at each others' throats in war. It means holding up international working-class solidarity in opposition to ruling-class nationalism. At a time when Scottish workers are now grappling with the effects of intensified global capitalist competition, and have just been assaulted with nationalistic propaganda in an effort to win their assent to constitutional change the need for socialist internationalism is greater than ever.

The media, the politicians and other mouthpieces of the capitalists have done their job well. In the referendum Scottish workers are being  caught up by the "patriotism" of both Yes and No camps. The Socialist Party cannot stop world capitalism from creating even more misery on a global scale than it already has. Only the working class can do that. What the SPGB can do, however, is hasten the day when workers will come to the realisation that they must act to end capitalism and build socialism. The Socialist Party can do that, PROVIDED it receives the support of those who appreciate the urgency of the times and the need to spread the socialist message. To fight nationalism  effectively requires two things -- a clear exposure of the capitalist roots of nationalism and a class conscious unity of workers to oppose it. Only a class conscious position can cut through decades of propaganda and expose the inadequacies of reformist or separatist approaches to this fundamental problem. It is impossible to work for a socialist society without fighting against divisions among workers. But it is equally impossible to mount any really effective campaign against nationalism that is not at the same time a fight against its capitalist cause.

“ There are but two nations in the world today -- the capitalist class nation, which exploits and lives upon the sweat of the brow of the working class nation, the sweat of whose brow, through unrequited toil, feeds, clothes, houses and fattens the capitalist class nation." --Daniel De Leon

Friday, August 22, 2014

Loads Of Money

Religious groups put all their emphasis on what happens when you die and disdain having wealth whilst you are alive, but beneath that con trick they do very well for those at the top of their organisations. The Islamic State (IS) is likely the world's wealthiest terrorist organization thanks to a large-scale racketing scheme that the organization has adopted in the 1990s, Yahoo Finance reported. ISIS [IS] has always been a very wealthy terrorist movement because it's been running very large scale Mafiosi protection rackets all across Iraq for around five years now, Yahoo Finance quoted Washington Institute's fellow Michael Knights as saying. 'Knights, who has been studying Iraq since the 1990s, estimates the Sunni group makes $2 million to $4 million per day. Reports of bank robbing are a disproved exaggeration according to Knights, and the real money is coming from oil operations.' (RIA Novista, 13 August) RD

Protect the Vote! Use it Wisely!

Why haven't we had a socialist revolution? How much longer can capitalism last? How bad must conditions get before workers take action? There has been no revolution, but rather the working class, while angry, has been mired by confusion, uncertainty and despair.

Socialism is not a predestined inevitable development. Socialism is not an automatic affair, workers as a class must play an active role in the socialist revolution. Capitalism will not vanish. It will remain until it is overthrown. And capitalism can be overthrown only as the result of class conscious mass struggle.

Promoting class conciousness, however, is no easy matter. Workers are bombarded daily in the media with capitalist propaganda. Politicians and economists obscure the capitalist roots of economic crisis and falsely predict a “recovery” after a painful period of "adjustment." And some union leaders tell workers that they need to make concessions to their exploiters instead of fighting back. Worse still, many on the Left confuse workers by talking of  reforms or by raising false hopes that workers can force the political state to solve the problems of unemployment and poverty. Such notions can only help convince workers that they have a future under capitalism and that capitalism is, at this late date, somehow capable of being reformed. In truth, ending the effects of capitalism requires ending their cause -- the capitalist system.

The sad fact is that workers -- those who vote and those who don't -- still buy into the notion that capitalism can somehow solve the problems and miseries it creates and confronts them with. This misunderstanding is no accident. That misconception is nurtured deliberately by capitalism's politicians, and by assorted capitalist agencies of miseducation and misinformation -- the media, the schools, the universities, the churches, the ever-present reformers and more -- all of which are dominated by pro-capitalist interests. Those interests and their political lackeys are primarily concerned with the preservation of their system -- the source of their wealth and their positions of privilege -- at the continued expense of the useful producers of the nation. They will not and do not hesitate to mouth any promise or resort to any act they think will serve their purpose, no matter how hypocritical or ruthless. The hope for a sane and decent society can never be realised within the confines of the capitalist system. Private ownership of the means of life, coupled with the exploitation of wage labour, make it impossible. Furthermore, the system cannot be reformed, regardless of how moral or how ethical reformers may be. Capitalism is beyond that. Its very nature militates against such efforts.

It is important that workers come to recognise that there is an alternative to capitalism. For the sooner the working class realises that the misery imposed by capitalism need not be endured, the sooner will workers turn to socialism. Workers need to form a mass socialist party to challenge and defeat the political state for the purpose of dismantling it. That will clear the way for the workers' organisation on the economic field to administer the classless socialist society by ousting the capitalist class from the seat of its economic power and by taking, holding and operating the economy in the peoples’ interests. It is inconceivable that socialism would win at the ballot box by a number so small that the outcome would be in doubt. Indeed, even if the formality of vote counting was dispensed with completely at such a juncture, the social atmosphere would be charged with the electricity of impending change that the will of the people could not be concealed.

Capitalism can be counted on to produce economic crises in abundance. However, economic crisis is not a sufficient condition of revolution. Even if the economy should utterly collapse, the result would not necessarily be socialism. For in the absence of revolutionary working-class organisation, the ruling class would readily impose its own totalitarian alternative. There is much evidence that the capitalist class lives in fear of widespread social unrest and is at work to either contain or to defuse it and channel it off into harmless dead ends. We are in a race with time. We will either succeed or fail in our mission to penetrate the consciousness of the working class before all avenues for peaceful change are closed off.  Many are aware that the avenues for achieving peaceful change in our democracy are being closed at a frightening rate of speed. The ballot is more and more reserved to the major parties, financed by capitalist funding, the mass media are essentially sealed off from organisations like the Socialist Party. If the ballot cannot be brazenly taken from the workers, laws may well be passed to accomplish the same thing by a back door.

 If indeed we lose the race -- if all means for peaceful change are eventually closed -- socialists will not abandon our efforts and the struggle will continue but the alternative is not a pleasant one to contemplate. Accordingly, we work hard to get our message across now, knowing that if we fail the chances for a nonviolent and peaceful transition to socialism will diminish and possibly disappear. We live in a world of increasing chaos and violence, as the conflicts now raging in the Middle East attests. We aim for a world in which cooperation and peace will be combined with prosperity and freedom for all. The longer it takes to wake up the working class to accomplish the change in a nonviolent way, the longer the working class suffers ruling-class violent oppression, the more difficult it will be to achieve our hopes and aspirations for a new world worth having. Where the ballot is silenced, the bullet must speak.